Whatever Volleyball did between their match against Murray State and today's against Ole Miss, they should do more of that. Off to an 0-5 start to the season plagued by consistency issues, the Bulls roared out against the 8-1 Rebels, winning the first two sets 27-25 and 25-21 to take a commanding lead.
The tournament hosts used quick starts in the three remaining sets and some apparent adjustment in the fourth and fifth to complete a 3-2, come-from-behind win, but to use a colloquialism, I ain't even mad.
This afternoon's match was, bar-none, UB's finest of the year, and finest in a long time. I believe Tessa Ooyama got the start over Niki Bozinoski at libero, but I'm not entirely sure. The counting stat inflation is partially simply due to Buffalo finally playing more than three sets: Amber Hatchett, Akeila Lain, Megan Lipski, and Cassie Shado all had ten or more kills, but by efficiency UB excelled relative to their first two weekends. The above quartet were all hitting about .300 deep into the fourth set, and Hatchett, Lain, and Shado remained above .280 for the full match.
The dropoff for the Bulls after a tightly contested third set - UB trailed just 18-19 in that frame with a 2-0 match lead -was severe. Only a late "rally" in the fourth (won 25-15 by Ole Miss) pulled Buffalo out of a deeply negative hitting percentage, and the fifth set was even worse; UB had just two kills to nine errors, hitting -.350 on 20 attacks.
But none of that sad stuff! This match was great for the Bulls, the finest play yet. Unlike their stronger stretches against Penn State, Villanova, and Murray State, UB generated points from their own play rather than their opponents mistakes. The late swoon dropped the attacking percentage into the mid-100s, but even that number is well above UB's season mark of .031.
Marissa Prinzbach had a season-high 45 assists, Cassie Shado led the Bulls with five blocks, and Tessa Ooyama had three aces, including two at a critical juncture late in the first set that spurred UB to the early lead.
UB plays again at 8:30 PM (perhaps a bit later) against Belmont. Look to this space for an update once that match goes final.
We didn't have working livestats, or any acknowledgement at all, for the Belmont match, but the afternoon promise saw the Bulls fall back to a three set sweep at the hands up the Bruins. UB did again show more fight in the match than over the weekend, losing 31-29, 25-14, 25-22. The Bulls held set points in the first at 24-22 and 29-28.
Once again, UB hit well over their season average on the match, though .133 is by no means good, even as Coach Lipsitz dug deep into the bench. For the second straight match, UB saw balanced offensive contribution from multiple players, as Hatchett, Watkins, Lipski, and Shado all had six or more kills. Tessa Ooyama, stepping into the libero position for the day, did not match her output from the Ole Miss match, committing four errors in service reception and failing to notch an ace after three against the Rebels.
This was the first match of the season in which UB did not have a single set in which they hit for a negative percentage.
Buffalo closes out their weekend with a match against Southern Mississippi tomorrow.